UTAH JAZZ

KSL Sports NBA Lottery Mock Draft

May 19, 2023, 4:36 PM | Updated: May 20, 2023, 9:46 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz learned they’ll own the ninth pick in the 2023 NBA draft, but how does the rest of the lottery look in the first KSL Sports mock draft?

The San Antonio Spurs will select Victor Wembanyama with the top overall pick, but beyond that, little is certain about the draft.

With the draft order now set, here’s how the rest of the lottery selections might look, and how it will affect the Jazz.

Will Wembanyama Dominate The West?

With the Spurs landing the top overall pick, the Jazz now face the potential reality that the league’s first generational player since LeBron James will be stationed in the Western Conference for the foreseeable future.

Teams in the East celebrated the day James decided to head West to join the Los Angeles Lakers, finally loosening his stranglehold on the conference after 15 seasons.

Will Wembanyama have the same impact in the West?

The league is more balanced than ever, but that might only be because we’re in the holding space between James’ twilight years and Wembanyama’s prime.

Does that accelerate the Jazz’s rebuilding timeline, or will they take a wait-and-see approach? I’d assume the latter, but with tens of millions of dollars in cap space, and a treasure chest of draft picks, the roster could change dramatically with only a few moves.

Spurs Pick: You can mark Victor Wembanyama down to the Spurs in permanent ink.

Does Hornets Pick Affect The Jazz?

While the Spurs were the clear winners of draft night, the Charlotte Hornets found themselves in an interesting spot.

Do they select Scoot Henderson, long thought to be the clear-cut second-best player in the draft, or do they take Alabama freshman Brandon Miller who fits better alongside All-Star guard LaMelo Ball?

Regardless, unless the Jazz were willing to pay a steep price in future draft assets, plus the three first-rounders they own this year, their choice at number two shouldn’t have much of an impact in Utah.

Hornets Pick: Brandon Miller likely makes the most sense, here.

What’s Going On In Portland?

The Portland Trail Blazers had perhaps the strangest outcome on draft night, jumping up to the third spot in a three-man draft, while still trying to build a contender around Damian Lillard.

As long as Lillard says he’s dedicated to Portland, they’ll work to construct a championship-caliber roster around him, but do they close to doing that by holding onto the third pick, or by trading it for an All-Star?

The Trail Blazers are certainly happier drafting third than they would have been had they stayed at five as their lottery odds predicted, but it created a whole new set of questions in Portland.

Does it matter who is available at three between Miller or Henderson, and how good of a player can they get back in exchange for the third overall pick?

Trail Blazers Pick: Unless this pick is traded, Portland can’t pass on Scoot Henderson.

Say Amen For Houston?

Jazz fans can be happy that the Houston Rockets didn’t jump up into the top three spots with a chance to nab one of Wembanyama, Miller, or Henderson, though Amen Thompson has the type of explosiveness to develop into one of the league’s top perimeter players.

There are rumors that the fourth pick could be available in a trade, but Houston may be looking for players to help them win now in any blockbuster moves.

The Rockets are apparently kicking the tires on a James Harden reunion, which means for the right veteran piece they might be happy to move out of the draft. However, the Jazz don’t have the types of veterans that would interest the Rockets, so this pick likely means little in Utah.

Rockets Pick: Hallelujah, it’s Amen Thompson.

Did Detroit Drop Create Opportunity To Move Up?

There’s simply no question that the Detroit Pistons were the draft’s biggest losers.

Not only did they have the worst record in the NBA last season, they dropped as far as possible in the lotto, slipping to the fifth pack, and into what many consider the third tier of the lottery.

Does the disappointment from dropping so far in the draft make Detroit more likely to trade out or trade down?

The Jazz own the ninth, 16th, and 28th picks, is that enough to move up to five if they found a player they truly desire?

The Pistons have already been tied to Villanova standout freshman Cam Whitmore, but if they don’t feel like he’s a star in the marking, they may prefer to have more bites at the apple in the first round.

Pistons Pick: With tears still in their eyes from slipping in the draft, it’s Cam Whitmore.

No Magic For Orlando?

Despite their long history of moving up into the top spot in the draft, the Orlando Magic stayed up at six on lottery night.

The Magic really took their foot off the gas pedal late in the season, but should be considered a threat to make the playoffs next year.

With potentially $60 million in cap space, two lottery picks, and a significant amount of young talent, could the Magic try to accelerate their timeline by chasing a star in free agency or via trade?

Or, could they package their two lottery picks, plus a veteran like Wendell Carter to swap with the Trail Blazers for the third pick?

After making the playoffs only twice in the last 11 seasons, the Magic might be ready to end their rebuild on a high note, and an aggressive trade on draft night could be the solution.

Magic Pick: If Orlando stays put, Taylor Hendricks checks a lot of their boxes.

Could Pacers Be Trade Partners?

Like the Jazz, the Indiana Pacers own three first-round picks. Unlike the Jazz, they have one pick in the lottery, and two late first-rounders at 26 and 29.

In this mini-mock draft, the three best players on the board are Ausar Thompson, Anthony Black, and Jarace Wallace.

Luckily for Indiana, all three of them fit the Pacers’ needs. As a result, would they be willing to drop back a few spots knowing they could still fill a hole in the draft while acquiring yet another draft asset?

If the Jazz loved a player that slipped to seven, and feared the Washington Wizards were going to select them at eight, would they try to swap spots with the Pacers to get their guy?

Would Indy be willing to move seven and 26 for nine and 16? Would the Jazz?

Pacers Pick: If the Indy keeps the pick, they should add frontcourt dynamo Jarace Walker.

Does Anyone Know What The Wizards Are Doing?

At this point, very difficult to predict what the Wizards are planning to do on draft night.

Why?

Because they don’t have a General Manager or VP of Basketball Ops to guide the team.

That could change in the coming days, but regardless, it’s already late in the draft process to be installing a new front office.

This is a wildcard, but they need to address their backcourt alongside Bradley Beal, and that just so happens to be where the best players on the board lie.

Wizards Pick: Wizards go highest upside with Ausar Thompson.

Which Guard Do The Jazz Take?

Remember in 2013 when Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, and Michael Carter-Williams went back-to-back-back in the draft, we could be in a similar spot here with Thompson, Anthony Black, and Cason Wallace.

Wallace is the best shooter of the three, but at 34 percent he’s by no means a dead-eye. He’s also the smallest of the trio at 6-foot-2 (without shoes) and is the worst athlete.

Black is the best passer of the three, while Thompson’s athleticism gives him an edge defensively among the three very good defenders.

Jazz Pick: Danny Ainge doesn’t traditionally draft non-shooters, but Anthony Black beats out Wallace due to size and overall feel, but this could be a toss-up.

Mavericks Keep Pick, But For How Long?

The Dallas Mavericks tanked heavily late in the season to avoid losing their draft pick to the New York Knicks, and were lucky to hold onto after the draft lottery.

Now, what do they do with it?

The rumor mill would imply that Luca Doncic’s clock in Dallas is ticking, and with Kyrie Irving likely to re-sign, they don’t need backcourt help.

The draft board does not match their needs, making it likely the Mavericks look to move the pick for a veteran or trade back to get better bang for their buck.

Mavericks Pick: It’s an enormous swing for the fences, but if you’re looking for a third star alongside Doncic and Irving, controversial freshman GG Jackson makes sense in Dallas.

Will Board Break Right For Magic?

The Magic were one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA last season, especially after waiving veteran sharpshooter Terrence Ross.

They already added one 40 percent shooter in Hendricks with the sixth pick, and double down at 11 with a perfect match of need and the best player available.

Magic Pick: Gradey Dick simply makes too much sense here.

Will The Thunder Reach At 12?

Much like the Mavericks, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in a tricky spot in the draft where the best player available doesn’t necessarily match their biggest need.

Last season the Thunder played one of the smallest frontcourts in the league and will need to add size this summer.

They could do that with a surprise signing this summer (Brook Lopez anyone?) to team with Chet Holmgren, they could reach in the draft, or they could look to trade back for additional draft capital.

If Cason Wallace was still on the board at 12, could the Jazz offer picks 16 and 28 to move up and grab both of the mid-lottery guards? That might not be enough, but you can’t underrate the Thunder’s love for draft picks.

Thunder Pick: The Thunder need size, but reaching to pair Holmgren with another rookie big man doesn’t make sense. Instead, they go best player available and take Cason Wallace.

Should Toronto Blow It Up?

There’s some belief in the draft community that the draft really dries up after the 11th or 12th pick or so (depending on how you feel about GG Jackson) and that puts the Toronto Raptors in a bit of an awkward spot.

There is guard talent on the board that matches the Raptors’ needs with Nick Smith Jr., Keyonte George, and Jalen Hood-Schifno, but all three have serious question marks.

If Toronto wants to start over, they could let Fred VanVleet leave in free agency, then offer up the 13th pick and either OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam to the Trail Blazers to move up to the third pick to jumpstart their rebuild around either Henderson or Miller.

Personally, I like that plan more than running it back as is, but Masai Ujiri is one of the top executives in the league, and will undoubtedly make the right move for Toronto.

Raptors Pick: This likely comes down to a few guards sitting on the board, and the Raptors go with the highest upside in former top-three high school recruit Nick Smith Jr.

Which Need Do Pelicans Address?

The New Orleans Pelicans had a disappointing season, missing the playoffs after giving the Phoenix Suns a scare in the opening round last year.

If Zion Williamson returns, they should be a favorite to make the playoffs again, but still could add depth nearly everywhere on the court.

Between Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, and Trey Murphy III, they have good size on the wing, especially if Williamson rejoins the fold.

They could use more guard depth, but the options on the board don’t offer much contrast to CJ McCollum.

Jonas Valanciunas is an above-average starting center in the NBA, but is entering the final year of his contract, and teamed with the departure of Jaxon Hayes, leaves New Orleans thin in the frontcourt.

Pelicans Pick: He might not be the best player available, but Dereck Lively II isn’t a major reach here, and fills a need as a backup center with significant upside.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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